When you are the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners looking for a place to hold your annual retreat, where do you have it?
Why, Guilford County of course.
Given that Mecklenburg County is the largest county in the state and is rife with beautiful meeting places and destination venues, that board had a vast number of choices within its borders. However, to the dismay of some Mecklenburg taxpayers, those commissioners chose to hold their 2019 retreat at the Grandover Resort and Conference Center right here in Greensboro.
On Wednesday, Feb. 13, the Charlotte Observerran a story reporting that the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners had spent three days at Grandover at a cost of over $26,000, which some taxpayers saw as excessive.
When it comes to county commissioner retreats, it’s not only commissioners who attend, but also a large number of county staff.
The article reads, “The county has traditionally held its retreats at CPCC’s [Central Piedmont Community College’s] conference center off Billy Graham Parkway. County chairman George Dunlap said it was worth spending more to move the retreat out of Charlotte this year because members got to spend more time together away from the pressures of daily life. ‘I think it was extremely helpful,’ said Dunlap. ‘I don’t think we would have been able to do the things we did and accomplish the work we accomplished having to deal with the interruptions that occur, had we been at home.’”
In Guilford County, area economic development officials and elected leaders were sharing the CharlotteObserverstory this week because it does look pretty good for Guilford County that the Charlotte crew choose this area over their own.
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners also prefers Guilford County. The board just named its retreat location for its late February retreat: NOAH’S Event Venue in High Point. Guilford County Clerk to the Board of Commissioners Robin Keller said the two days at NOAH’S is costing $2,200.
“I don’t have the catering costs yet, but we are looking at boxed lunches and bagels,” Keller said.
So it may be good to be a Guilford County commissioner, but it’s apparently a lot better to be a Mecklenburg County commissioner.
Guilford County’s Board of Commissioners has only held a retreat outside of Guilford County one time in this millennium. That was in 2006 and it was a complete disaster. The county held the one-day retreat in Chapel Hill even though a major snowstorm was on the way. Everyone’s mind was on the storm all day long and county staff just wanted to get out before the storm hit. After the retreat ended that Saturday afternoon, county commissioners, staff and reporters who didn’t want to be stranded there for days drove home in the snowstorm and were lucky to arrive back in Greensboro alive.
In this week’s Observerarticle, the Charlotte City Council was also called out – for going to the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel and spending over $38,000 for rooms and food during that retreat.
According to the paper, by contrast, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education met for two days at Central Piedmont Community College at a cost of about $1,200 – and many members paid for their own dinners.
The chairman of the school board, quoted in the article, threw some shade on the county commissioners: “I would love for us to be able to go to some exotic location like the Grandover, but it’s not necessary.”
The nicest retreat the Guilford County Board of Commissioners have had this century was at High Point University where the complimentary food served by the university was amazing and the meeting room remained stocked with candy and other treats all day long.